The Dehydration – Panic Attack Connection

Česky: Pitná voda - kohoutek Español: Agua potable

Dehydration from a lack of fluid (water) intake or eating very salty foods raises histamine levels in the body. In turn, raised histamine levels in the blood lead to higher adrenaline levels. Evidence exists that high adrenaline levels are a precursor to panic attacks.

It makes sense, anxiety is a stress event hence, anxiety raises adrenaline by encouraging the adrenal glands to release this stress hormone. Just thinking, that an anxious person who does not drink enough water and/or has a high salt diet, might contribute to ongoing panic attacks unknowingly.

Dehydration is a common problem today, where people rather reach for soft drinks or even coffee as a thirst quencher. Our western diet is also very high in salt. Remember also, that MSG is a salty substance to enhance the flavour and colour of foods and is a common ingredient, especially in fast and snack foods.

Dehydration also raises the lactic acid concentration in the blood stream and the brain. The problem here is that increased acidity in the nerve junctions of the brain stimulates the fear and anxiety response (including hyperventilation). And voila, adrenaline release is again stimulated and sets the person up for a panic attack.

I have recently done a Bioimpedance Analysis on the patients in my Wellbeing Group at a local Mental Health facility. The most common diagnosis in the current group is depression and anxiety – yes you guessed it, every single person in this group showed as dehydrated. All also had varying deficiencies of Magnesium and Potassium, both mineral deficiencies are indicated in depression.

It just highlights the importance of a healthy diet, drinking enough plain water for your size and consulting a trained natural practitioner, before you reach for pharmaceuticals.

If you suffer from anxiety and panic attacks you may want to give the water a go. One of my patients now swears by drinking a glass or two of water every time she starts feeling anxious (remember, anxiety also induces perspiration, which translates into body fluid loss), she has not had a panic attack since.

Just a side thought on histamine – many people try to treat their depression with naturals, often minus the input of a trained Naturopath. What the sales person in the Health Food Shop often does not know, is that a component in the St. Johns Wort plant has a histamine like effect – hence the herbs working to ‘up’ the mood.

If you suffer from anxiety with your depression you run into dire straits, because the histamine response increases the anxiety and a hypomanic or anxious feeling becomes a new problem. So a trained Naturopath would prescribe quite a different herb for a person with depression and anxiety.

Panic attacks can cause havoc in life and sometimes lead to isolation and loneliness.

Wishing you the best of health this weekend and always 🙂

About Nature is Health

Mental Health Nurse - Naturopath - passionate about Natural Therapies for Mental Health, Nature, Animals My blog invites serious (that does not mean you can not use humour) comments and feedback only. Please be non offensive and respect others. Guest blogging from related fields is invited, please notify me about your intended blog first via email!
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15 Responses to The Dehydration – Panic Attack Connection

  1. Thank you for such a informative post. I didn’t know any of that as it pertains to anxiety, depression etc.
    I have learned much from you. I do drink probably 4-5 glasses of water alone, per day. I have not had panic attacks now or in the number I use to for several years. During my recent bout of illness from surgery that you are aware of, lots of blood levels were low. I started taking super B complex with the B vitamins you suggested along with Folic Acid. My potassium levels, sodium all are normal again. And my body is at a normal level again.
    This was such an informative post. And I will suggest these things to friends or family who may deal with them.

  2. Cecilia says:

    Humph, I say! Only in Canada?? And other places too!!

    I do drink a lot of water Birg but what if it isn’t getting absorbed, like everything else? I used to drink 2 GALLONS a day (of water…just to clarify 😉 and know now that is too much. So 12 to 16 cups (or roughly half of what I used to drink). But I don’t get as many panic attacks anyways. I’m sure there are other factors too.

    Interesting to read your blog. I never knew!


    • Lol – 2 gallons sounds like you were drinking enough for a whole family 🙂 There is a little trick an alcoholic patient once shared with me – if you add a little juice to the first glass of water you drink in the morning, the rest of the water gets absorbed better. Worth a try for sure.

  3. Sorry I needed to reply to this. Two gallons of water a day? Oh my. When I was still working as a therapist in mental health, there was a patient on another floor, who when she was having panic attacks of other emotional traumas, she drank so much water and if we didn’t monitor it, she would end up with water intoxication. Her electrolytes would bottom out and she’d end up in the emergency room. Too much water can be problematic. Finding the right balance for your body is much healthier. When I had a recent sinus surgery and reacted severely to anesthesia, I unconsciously began drinking 2-3 glasses approx of water an hour. My husband kept trying to hide the glasses. I ended up so overloaded, that I gained weight just in fluid retention. I looked fat.
    My electrolytes bottomed out, everything bottomed out. I am now fully recovered from that event of which I have little or no memory except what others have told me.
    Water isn’t always the entire answer, but drinking a healthy balance of it, helps.

    • Hi Yisraela, what you say is totally true – balance is the magic word 🙂 Luckily Cecilia hasn’t got polydipsia and has decreased her water intake. Cecilia has allowed me to do a personalized health appraisal for her (you may have seen the page on my menu) you can see her comment on the page 🙂

  4. I have to say I 100% agree with this post – I know from my own experiences that dehydration certainly leads to feeling more anxious and being more prone to panic attacks.

    I had my first panic attack the day after being out all night partying (lots of beer). I was completely hungover and dehydrated all day and just felt awful. By the time I tried to fall asleep that night, I was suddenly very aware of my pounding heart beat, and out of nowhere – panic attack!

    I ended up struggling for 5 years with them but finally was able to get my life back. Today healthy diet along with tons of water (I definitely drink 2+ gallons/day), working out, meditation and a few other changes have proven to be the magic formula for me.

    Thanks for sharing.


  5. Daniela says:

    Thank you very much for highlighting the importance of diet and water intake for anxiety and depression. I know from the first hand experience to be true. Recently even the main stream medicine is starting to acknowledge it!

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